PARK-AS-LAB

RIPA’s vision for Park-as-Lab is a research collaborative where scientists, environmental advocates, and communities work together on scientific research. Park-as-Lab works to encourage civic engagement, support STEM career paths, and increase our understanding of New York City’s ecosystems, ultimately promoting more resilient communities.

Through promoting opportunities to participate in and increase understanding of scientific research, Park-as-Lab aims to:

  • Facilitate applied environmental science and ecology research on Randall’s Island
  • Support community needs by promoting public participation in science research from conception to implementation
  • Foster partnerships through continued engagement and communication

Click here to view our data and reports.
For more info or to get involved, contact us at naturalareas@randallsisland.org or (212) 860-1899.

What does the Park-as-Lab program do?

Urban Ecology Research

Through the Park-as-Lab Program, researchers from high school, college, and graduate to professional levels use Randall’s Island as a site to explore scientific questions related to environmental science and urban ecology. Student researchers, with an adviser from their school, conduct independent research projects or assist with a long-term monitoring project on the Island. Topics range from the impact of water quality on fish community composition to evaluating the ability of plants and soil microbes to remediate soil. RIPA also asks for input from local stakeholders so that research through Park-as-Lab reflects community-identified needs and interests.

Environmental Monitoring & Community Engagement

RIPA works to connect youth and adults to the Island through environmental monitoring. Interested students, individuals, and organizations have opportunities to work with RIPA’s Natural Areas Department and participate in monitoring projects, such as counting and identifying the fish species that live in our waterways and tagging monarch butterflies migrating through New York City. Staff and volunteers collect data to contribute to larger citywide and regional projects that improve our understanding of local ecosystems. Check out RIPA’s website for opportunities to participate in Park-as-Lab events and environmental monitoring activities.

Outreach & Online Resources

RIPA works with partner organizations to ensure that research on Randall’s Island is informed by and benefits the surrounding communities. Data and reports from research and monitoring projects are shared on RIPA’s website. Attend a data interpretation workshop, view our summary reports, or check out lesson plans to learn about how you can use data available on our website and what they mean to you.

Park-as-Lab Interactive Map

Our interactive map visualizes locations at which ongoing and completed environmental monitoring or academic partner projects at Randall’s Island Park are conducted. Since 2011, students, professional researchers, RIPA staff, and volunteers have participated in a variety of community science and research projects related to urban ecology and environmental science. The map serves as a repository of all these research efforts. Users can locate sites where researchers have collected data related to water quality, vegetation, and wildlife on and around Randall’s Island. Information associated with each point directs the user to corresponding datasets, reports, and/or posters on the Randall’s Island Park Alliance website that are available for download.

How to use this map

Visualize points where research is conducted on Randall’s Island using the panel to the right. You can turn layers on and off using the Wildlife, Water Quality and Vegetation buttons. This allows you to visualize a portion of or all of the projects on Randall’s Island depending on your interest.

Download datasets, reports, and posters

By clicking on an individual point, you can see the project name and description. There is also a link to materials (datasets, reports, or posters) that contains or uses data collected at the location of the point. All of these materials are available for download.

Project Categories

Vegetation
Wildlife
Water Quailty

Data Repository

  • All
  • Vegetation
  • Water Quality
  • Wildlife

A Benthic Macroinvertebrate Survey of Little Hell Gate Salt Marsh

A Benthic Macroinvertebrate Survey of Little Hell Gate Salt Marsh

A survey of benthic macroinvertebrate species diversity and abundance in the Little Hell Gate Salt Marsh. This study aims to characterize the benthic macroinvertebrate community and link the presence of certain indicator species to salt marsh ecosystem benefits.

Report: PDF

A Survey of Fish Diversity and Water Quality on Randall’s Island

A Survey of Fish Diversity and Water Quality on Randall’s Island

The purpose of this study was to better understand the ways in which decreased water quality impact NYC’s urban fish communities, and which fish species are most sensitive to changes in water quality.

Report: PDF

Assessing the Capacity of Restored Salt Marshes to Process Nitrogen and Phosphorus

Assessing the Capacity of Restored Salt Marshes to Process Nitrogen and Phosphorus

Salt marshes may help reduce nitrogen and phosphorus in ecosystems but it is unclear if restored marshes can provide this function. RIPA and partners at Baruch College measured dissolved gas and nutrient fluxes from salt marshes at Randall’s Island and compared these to adjacent unrestored habitat.

Poster: PDF

Billion Oyster Project

Billion Oyster Project

RIPA staff, volunteers, and students monitor an oyster cage installed by Billion Oyster Project to assess eastern oyster growth and survival and observe other marine organisms using oyster shells and oyster cage as habitat.

2018 Data: Excel
2017 Data: Excel
2016 Data: Excel

Citizens’ Water Quality Testing Program

Citizens’ Water Quality Testing Program

Randall’s Island Park Alliance staff, volunteers, and members of the public participate in weekly water quality testing to detect bacteria from the genus Enterococcus, which are associated with fecal coliform presence.

2018 Data: Excel
2015-17 Data: Excel

Fish & Crustacean Survey

Fish & Crustacean Survey

Randall’s Island Park Alliance staff, volunteers, and members of the public participate in monthly fish and crustacean monitoring at two locations on Randall’s Island.

2018 Data: Excel
2015-17 Data: Excel

Fresh Water and Hell Gate Meadow Summer Pollinator and Bloom Survey

Fresh Water and Hell Gate Meadow Summer Pollinator and Bloom Survey

Bee populations have been steadily declining, raising serious concerns for the future of their species and associated plants. This project aimed to survey Hymenopteran species and other pollinators to help understand how land managers can promote a healthier pollinator community.

Report: PDF

Harbor Herons

Harbor Herons

Randall’s Island Park Alliance staff and volunteers participate in bimonthly harbor heron monitoring at ten locations on Randall’s Island.

2018 Data: Excel
2011-17 Data: Excel

Insect Pollinator Surveys 

Insect Pollinator Surveys 

Every month from May-October, RIPA staff and volunteers visit 3 sites on Randall’s Island to conduct insect pollinator counts.

2018 Data: Excel

Ocean Litter Cleanups

Ocean Litter Cleanups

Volunteers on Randall’s Island assist staff in collecting, identifying, and counting types of ocean litter.

2018 Data: Excel

Oyster Substrate Identification in the Little Hell Gate Bridge Shoreline

Oyster Substrate Identification in the Little Hell Gate Bridge Shoreline

The goal of this project was to determine types of substrates on Randall’s Island, specifically the area around the Little Hell Gate Bridge, that provide habitat for oysters.

Report: PDF

Phytoremediation Strategies in Contaminated Shoreline Soils

Phytoremediation Strategies in Contaminated Shoreline Soils

The purpose of our study is to assess the ability of plants and soil biota to remediate urban shoreline soils. We are designing a two-year field monitoring study on a 2-acre shoreline site on Randall’s Island.

Poster: PDF

Vertebrate Scavenging along an Urbanization Gradient

Vertebrate Scavenging along an Urbanization Gradient

Effects of urbanization on the vertebrate scavenger community, their feeding behaviors, and ecosystem services scavengers provide is poorly understood. The authors studied vertebrate scavenger community and carcass removal rates along an urbanization gradient in New York State.

Poster: PDF

Wetland Vegetation Survey 

Wetland Vegetation Survey 

RIPA staff and interns conduct vegetation surveys (annual or every 2 years) in two restored salt marshes. The objectives of wetland vegetation monitoring on the island are to evaluate whether restoration efforts are providing habitat for macroinvertebrates and to detect shifts in plant community composition associated with improved salt marsh ecosystem function.

2018 Data: Excel

Many thanks to RIPA’s growing list of “Lab Partners” including: